CAFOD steps in to ease the desperate plight of refugees
As fighting between Kurdish forces and the group known as Islamic State intensifies, CAFOD is providing aid to thousands of refugees who have fled into Turkey.
The United Nations estimates that a staggering 140,000 people – more than 15,000 per day – have crossed from Syria into Turkey since 19th September. As fighting continues around the town of Kobane, they warn that a total of 400,000 people could seek refuge in Turkey over the coming days.
Thanks to a £50,000 grant from the START network – a humanitarian consortium part-funded by the UK Government – CAFOD will work with its Church partners to provide emergency food packs to nearly 10,000 newly arrived refugees.
Alan Thomlinson, CAFOD’s emergency programme manager for the Syria Crisis, says: “Turkey was already hosting almost a million Syrian refugees, and the rapid influx of so many more has put overwhelming pressure on towns near the border.
“Many of those who have fled are women, children or older people, and a lot of them arrived with little more than the clothes they were wearing.
“According to one assessment, most people only had enough food to last them a single day. Our partners are on the ground, doing everything they can to ensure that food reaches those who need it most.”
CAFOD is also continuing to support thousands of families who have fled from fighting in Iraq. In total, 1.8 million people have been forced from their homes in the country since the beginning of the year.
Many are living in dire conditions, sleeping in car parks or by the side of the road, often wearing the same clothes they have worn for days, in temperatures up to 45°C.
Across the governorates of Irbil and Dohuk in the Kurdish region of Iraq, CAFOD’s Church partners plan to provide food, shelter and emergency supplies to more than 115,000 people over the coming months.
Nabil Nissan, executive director of CAFOD partner Caritas Iraq, said: “This huge humanitarian crisis in Iraq has forced many families to leave without their possessions or the basic necessities to survive.
“They are desperate and frustrated. They lack hope that the world will move fast enough to end this humanitarian tragedy.
“The moral and financial support and encouragement have been simply great. This is one of the few positive results of the crisis.
“We felt that we aren’t alone and this has given us new strength to support the displaced people despite all the difficulties.”
Catholics in England and Wales have donated more than £2.7 million to CAFOD’s Syria Crisis appeal, as well as more than £115,000 towards the agency’s work in Iraq.
Since 2012, CAFOD has supported a multi-million pound humanitarian programme in response to the crises in the Middle East, working with local Church organisations to deliver food, water, shelter, blankets and medical supplies in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.